Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Masters of the Post: The Authorized History of the Royal Mail

the first complete history of the Royal Mail up to the present day, based on extensive research at the BPMA.

Economic journalist and researcher Duncan Campbell-Smith presents the whole story of Britain's postal service – how it was built, how it led the world for two hundred years and how it has struggled to survive in the face of mounting odds since the arrival of the internet.

In 880 pages with rich illustrations, Campbell-Smith tells the fascinating history from the origins of the royal monopoly to the Great Train Robbery - whilst also recounting several hitherto strangely neglected stories.

In addition to a reappraisal of many aspects of earlier centuries, it includes the first detailed account of the past half-century of Britain's postal history

Source: British Postal Museum & Archive

Another excellent account of the history of the Royal Mail at the Guardian.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

How to Reduce your Junk Mail? The Mailing Preference Service

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. 

Here's a nice easy one for you that reduces Junk Mail:
The Mailing Preference Service (MPS) is a free service set up 20 years ago and funded by the junk mail industry to enable consumers to have their names and home addresses in the UK removed from lists used by the industry. It is actively supported by the Royal Mail and all directly involved trade associations and fully supported by The Information Commissioners Office.

Registering your address and opting out of junk mail with the MPS is easy, it's free and it works.

BBC iPlayer - Panorama:  Why hate junk mail?

Further reading:
The Information Commissioners Office: Stop Junk Mail 
Guardian - Comment is Free: Junk mail – the facts
Roy Mayall: Going Postal

Friday, 4 November 2011

Happy Birthday Woman's Weekly - 100..!

Happy Birthday..!
    A celebration marking 100 years of your favourite magazine...
  • Our first-ever issue from 1911 to pull out and keep
  • Fashion trends through the decades - and how you can wear them now
  • Spectacular four-tier cake to make for your own celebration
  • A look back at 100 years of WW health advice
  • Centenary story from The Robin Family - back for one issue only!
  • Exquisite wedding-ring shawl to knit
  • A century of ads - fantastic and funny adverts we've carried over the years 

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

You really couldn't make this up...

It beggars belief...

Bad Mother sued by her children...

Raised in a $1.5 million Barrington Hills home by their attorney father, two grown children have spent the last two years pursuing a unique lawsuit against their mom for "bad mothering" damages allegedly caused when she failed to buy toys for one and sent another a birthday card he didn't like.

In 2009, the children, represented by three attorneys including their father, Steven A. Miner, sued their mother, Kimberly Garrity. Steven II, now 23, and his sister Kathryn, now 20, sought more than $50,000 for "emotional distress."

Miner and Garrity were married for a decade before she filed for divorce in 1995, records show.

Among the exhibits filed in the case is a birthday card Garrity sent her son, who in his lawsuit sought damages because the card was "inappropriate" and failed to include cash or a check. He also alleged she failed to send a card for years or, while he was in college, care packages.

On the front of the American Greetings card is a picture of tomatoes spread across a table that are indistinguishable except for one in the middle with craft-store googly eyes attached.

"Son I got you this Birthday card because it's just like you … different from all the rest!" the card reads. On the inside Garrity wrote, "Have a great day! Love & Hugs, Mom xoxoxo."

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Letter from Brazil

We received an unexpected letter and a postcard from Brasil today. Which was nice.

Eduardo Taufic Nahas is a collector of commercial aircraft postcards.

"I am writing you because my hobby is to collect postcards of commercial aircrafts from all airlines of the world.

My collection began in 1960, and I have about 10,000 postcards.

I would like to receive, if it possible, postcards issued by your company with airlines theme."

Cool Cards can't help Eduardo, but maybe you can? 
If you'd like to contact him, his email is: etnahas@uol.com.br

Monday, 1 August 2011

Dyslexic Font - CCQ 1

Cool Cards Quality (CCQ) calling Dyslexia Font... Come in Dyslexia Font...  Dyslexia Font, Come In...
Dyslexia has never been so accessible. We've all heard about it and we all know something about it.... So how hard could it to be to find a Dyslexia friendly font to add to our personalised card options at Cool Cards? 

Let's start with the experts:

Royal National Institute of Blind People - RNIB Fonts 
Wiki - RNIB

RNIB have this to say about Fonts:
A reasonable amount of research has been conducted to try and identify an optimum font for legibility and to investigate user preferences for fonts by sighted, blind and partially sighted people. To date this research has produced mixed results, with no single font standing out, but there were some commonalities which may help guide your font choice.

    Choose a clear font with easily recognisable characters
    Avoid ornate fonts, or those simulating handwriting
    Select a medium weight of character - not too thin, but not very thick

Research has been equally inconclusive about the benefits of serif or sans-serif fonts, with an almost equal number of reports recommending each. We therefore currently suggest that you can use either type of font, as long as the typeface is clear and the characters are distinct.

Last updated: 21 July 2010

"A reasonable amount of research" ...  Well that's helpful... What research? Any links to sources? Please? A Wiki link even...? Anything...? No? Nothing... Not impressed so far.

"not too thin, but not very thick" 
Ok now we're getting somewhere... 

"Select a medium weight of character" 
Yes! Success..!

"Research has been equally inconclusive about the benefits of serif or sans-serif fonts" 
That narrows it down...
"Last updated: 21 July 2010"
Over a year ago? 

Cutting edge legibility information from our leading sight loss Charity which raised over £110 millilon in 2009/10... Hello?

"Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is the UK's leading charity offering information, support and advice to almost two million people with sight loss."

£110 million divided by "almost two million people with sight loss"... (less expenses of course..) 

Maybe this is a bit simple but... do you not think a bit more time and research would have gone into readability..?

No recommended fonts. Not even any recommendation of no brainer beginner error fonts to avoid.

But, don't become confused or disheartened. Just stick with a medium weight serif or sans-serif. You'll be fine.

RNIB CCQ score for improvements towards dyslexia font readability suggestions : 0-10 

Monday, 25 July 2011

Snail Mail My Email

Of course, we all know that email is impersonal, lacking creativity and quite devoid of any significant effort on the part of the sender...

Ivan Cash, Artist, Designer, Art Director has created a nice twist on this with his Snail Mail My Email art project.

"Snail Mail My Email is a month-long (July 15 - August 15), interactive community art project which seeks to both share the warm-fuzzy feeling of receiving a personalized letter as well as inspire people to send their own snail mail. Anyone with internet access can partake by simply sending an email, after which the very same message will be handwritten and physically mailed to the chosen recipient anywhere in the world, completely free of charge.
In a culture overrun with instant gratification and on-demand services, this project cultivates appreciation for the lost art of letter writing."


Much as we love art... We love the idea of sending snail mail cards with personally handwritten sentiments even more. Especially those sent from Cool Cards.

Source: Flickr

Friday, 22 July 2011

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Harrogate Home and Gift - 2011

Cool Cards were at the Harrogate Home and Gift Trade Show today searching for new greeting card ideas for you. Did we find any? Yes we did..! And here are a few of our favourites... 
You'll soon find some of these, and more, at Cool Cards.

So, in no particular order... enjoy.

First up. Building on her success at many design-led trade shows, the enchanting and understated London based Graphic Designer Roisin Cafferty bravely made the long journey Up North and quite caught our attention with her stripped down, super cute, back to basics, less-is-more style of cards which confidently stood out amid the wash of the many samey, "Yorkshire" cards at Harrogate this year. We couldn't quite decide if they're right for Cool Cards though... What do you think?


Next up. We also fell in love with Velvet Olive years ago... but never took the plunge.

The delightful Kathryn Fletcher continues to expand her designs which we enjoyed catching up with at Harrogate. Supremely classy, timeless and yet contemporary designs, wonderfully finished - but with a RRP of £3.25 are they a bit too much for Cool Cards..? The cards are finished to such a high standard it's impossible to fully appreciate them with a website image. Can we do them justice?

This is a small sample of just one Velvet Olive design range which caught the apple of our eye/s. Clean, clear, classy.
Seriously, they don't do any justice to these stunningly beautiful cards.

"Back to Black
Cream textured board, print finished with beautiful black thermography, a technique which gives a raised and glossy impression, also hand finished with Austrian cream pearls."

But before you decide... Some important stuff you should know about Velvet Olive.

"She detests washing up but loves hoovering.
When designing, she very rarely moves from one spot for hours at a time, then eats 10 slices of toast and galleons of tea in one hit.
She loves typography and unusual types of board and paper.
Furniture, she can spend hours in a junk shop, buy nothing she needs, and then her poor house is filled to the rafters with her odd finds.
Architecture, she loves, loves, loves beautiful and interesting buildings, old or new. 
She hates bananas."
What more could you need to know?

Moving on... These next cards are quite simply a must-have, no-brainer addition to Cool Cards. You'll be seeing these soon. We used to have a Fair Trade shop and the lack of ethical, Fair Trade greeting cards on Cool Cards has always been a great source of shame for us... But, today we found these beauties at the Shared Earth stand: FairMail Fair Trade cards.

This is why we like them...

"FairMail is a company producing fair trade greeting cards in Peru and India and is a member of the World Fair Trade Organisation."
The card images, to be fair (...sorry) aren't all that strong. But that's not the point. It's the Fair Trade back-story that's important to us.

What's the back-story? "The photos on FairMail cards are taken by underpriviliged Indian and Peruvian teenagers. FairMail offers them photography training, part-time work, medical insurance and guidance in making their future plans."

"The teenagers get 50 % of the profits of the sale of their own cards to finance their housing and education."

We like that a lot. And we want more, more..!

Not shown here, but the back of each card shows an image of the person who will benefit from the sale of each card and information about them.

See more FairMail...

More?  Youtube FairMail Channel  (Mostly Dutch - the birthplace of the Fair Trade movement)
More more? Greedy guts. Search YouTube and Google for Fair Trade.

More cards? Oh, ok...

Susan Entwistle

We haven't had many Art Cards for a while, but these caught our attention... Any thoughts?

" Susan Entwistle, an artist with a textile design background, paints gardens from her visits around the country, using a contemporary, pointillist style in layers of coloured dots. She undertakes commissions for both public and private gardens as well as landscapes and florals."

Had a super day at Harrogate. So nice to meet existing Cool Cards publishers and some new ones too, but that's all for now (It's getting late and it's time for some FIBS backgammon to nicely round the day off) - more soon.

Those links again...
Super Classy Velvet Olive cards (trade only damn her to super hell)

Couldn't make the show? See for yourself... Harrogate Home & Gift Exhibitor list

Friday, 15 July 2011

R.I.P. Banksy Gorilla

"A BANKSY mural on a former social club in Eastville has been painted over.

The Gorilla in a Pink Mask mural, depicting an ape with a pink eye mask over its face, has been a familiar sight on Fishponds Road for more than 10 years."

"But the stencil was whitewashed over when the building was turned into a Muslim cultural centre. It could prove to be an expensive mistake – an 8ft mural on a hotel in Torquay is claimed to have raised the value of the building by £150,000.
Saeed Ahmed, owner of the cultural centre, said he had never heard of the famous artist and painted over the gorilla because he thought it was a regular piece of graffiti.
Mr Ahmed said: "I thought it was worthless. I didn't it know it was valuable. That's why I painted over it. I really am sorry if people are upset."
A paintings conservator, Richard Pelter of Park Street-based International Fine Art Conservation Studios, was last night attempting to remove the whitewash using large cotton buds and sensitive cleaning materials.
Neighbour Dean Meadows said: "It's a shame. It's currently being shared around the world on Twitter, so hopefully Banksy will hear and replace it himself."

"I thought it was worthless. I didn't it know it was valuable. That's why I painted over it. I really am sorry if people are upset."

Yeah right. Mr Ahmed, no offence, but Jesus H Christ that seems somewhat unlikely...

Get your memorial Banksy Gorilla Mask cards quick sharp from Cool Cards before Mr Ahmed comes round and Tip-Ex's them.

Source: Banksy Cards

Monday, 4 July 2011

Royal Mail... Junk Mail, Scam Mail, Stupid Mail... And Why? Profit.

Why Hate Junk Mail? BBC Panorama, the world's longest running investigative TV show, looks into the junk that pours through your doors every day... 

A somewhat lightweight Panorama 'investigation' and many many years too late we'd say, but better late than never...

"It invades our homes, dropping onto our doormats in its millions and costs the taxpayer a fortune to get rid of. It might be a menace in our mailbox but without junk mail, would our postal service survive? Panorama reporter Tom Heap asks whether junk mail is only good for one thing, burning it to heat his home, and investigates whether Royal Mail is addicted to the darker side of the letters business - scam mail."

Aside from the huge waste of limited resources and energy in sending such stupid mail, how upsetting must it be to receive unsolicited mail addressed to your ex or your recently deceased?

What the Panorama documentary fails to tell you is that you can very easily opt out of receiving junk and scam mail in the UK.

"The Mailing Preference Service (MPS) is a free service set up 20 years ago and funded by the direct mail industry to enable consumers to have their names and home addresses in the UK removed from lists used by the industry. It is actively supported by the Royal Mail and all directly involved trade associations and fully supported by The Information Commissioners Office.
The MPS Consumer File is a list of names and addresses of consumers who have told us they wish to limit the amount of direct mail they receive. The use of the Consumer File by list-owners and users is a requirement of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing administered by the Advertising Standards Authority. It is also a condition under the Code of Practice of the Direct Marketing Association."

And similarly, junk phone calls too:  Telephone Preference Service

Source: Panorama - Why Hate Junk Mail?

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Unpick to open - Snail Mail 10, Email 0

"Unpick to open" is the title of a simply amazing post from The Missive Maven.

USA based Missive Maven received a letter from England. 
Not your average letter mind you... An entirely embroidered letter from an unnamed, hugely talented, seamstress.

Long live beautiful and artistic snail mail..!
More images, more words: The Missive Maven

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Design: Bookmark - Haunted Mansion

Print your own Haunted Mansion bookmark and include it with your Cool Card as a simple and special gift.

  1. Print out the bookmark and the bookmark holder on regular paper or cardstock and cut out the pieces, including the "window" on the front of the bookmark holder. Do not cut along the fold lines.
  2. Fold the bookmark holder in half along the fold line so the illustration is on the outside. Fold the tabs on the sides inward. Spread glue over the tabs and glue them to the inside of the back of the holder. You should now have a pouch with an opening at the top.
  3. Fold the bookmark at the half way line so the illustrations are on the front and the back of the bookmark. Glue the backs together. Punch a hole at the top of the bookmark and tie a string or ribbon through the hole. Now you can slide your bookmark out of the holder to reveal the grim fates of the Portraits."
PDF image of bookmark.

Design: Dear Photograph - Then & Now

Photographs preserve a moment in time, memories and events.
"Dear Photograph" provides a delightful twist.

"Dear Photograph is a photo blog with a simple premise: old snapshots are brought back to the site where they were originally taken and are photographed in the present day. The result is a fascinating then and now photograph."

Add yours at Dear Photograph

View more and contribute: Dear Photograph 
Via: Laughing Squid

We blogged a similar idea back in 2009...
"Chino Otsuka inserts modern photos of herself as an adult into photos of herself as a child."